Next month I’ll be speaking at AccessU on Open Source Tools for Building Accessible Websites. I’m excited to share my love of two things: Open Source Software and Accessibility. Accessibility to me is a core subject area that all front end developers and designers need to be thinking about. Open Source Software powers the internet. On a daily basis, you are more likely to use an open tool then not and you might not even realize it. This seminar will be in two parts. The first will be looking at Open Source Software, what that term means and some of the tools you’ve most likely used that are open source. We’ll also look at how decisions (focused on accessibility) get made when building open source software and how and why you should be a part of them. The second half will look at how you can build an accessible website using open source software. The focus will be on WordPress and some of the specific challenges with it.
Many of the speakers are leaders in the Accessibility Community that I respect and learn from whenever I see them tweet, speak, or write. It’s an honor to be able to join them for this conference. Y’all should join us in Austin!
A bit more about the conference:
As Austin begins to warm toward summer, there’s no cooler place to be than with the knowledgeable, passionate speakers and instructors for Knowbility’s annual AccessU! Now in its second decade, John Slatin AccessU provides courses and workshops from the world’s best instructors in inclusive Web, document, and media design and development. Whether are a beginner or are looking to hone your existing accessibility skills, Austin is the place to be in May.
What: The 13th Annual John Slatin AccessU Training Conference
When: May 14 and 15 (conference) May 16 (optional post conference sessions)
Where: St Edward’s University, Austin, TX
Cost: $435 for the conference registration until April 25th
$325 for post-conference sessions until April 25th
Full schedule of classes is available on the Knowbility website.
The conference is produced by Knowbility and sponsored by Deque Systems, St Edward’s University, and the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. The event is a joyful celebration of the empowering potential of digital technology. Y’all come!
Last night, Mark Jaquith introduced Twenty Thirteen to the WordPress Community. I really like the design direction Twenty Thirteen is going. Similar to how I’ve made colors more vibrant on my site and used them to differentiate Post Formats, Twenty Thirteen takes a similar approach. Check out the demo site to see it for yourself.
One of the parts of the announcement that I really liked was a call for some quality accessibility testing. I’m glad to see this getting discussion now, early in the process.
Accessibility is still important, even when making bold artistic statements, and I’d be surprised if we didn’t have work to do there.
In fact, we are already working on improving the color contrast..
What are your first thoughts on Twenty Thirteen?
Related post: What I want to see in the Twenty Thirteen theme
WebDevStudios is doing a series of giveaways called Giveaway Tuesday. This week they asked people to share a story about a WordCamp and the one they selected as the best would receive a copy of WordPress For Dummies. Here is what I submitted:
My favorite WordCamp memory has to be the first WordCamp I spoke at, WordCamp Chicago 2010. I remember sitting with Pete Mall and John Hawkins watching the first batch of speakers. Before that moment, Pete was just a guy I knew from IRC. Now, years later I consider him a good friend. I remember meeting Ron and Andrea, two people that seemed larger then life before I had met them and found out that they are normal people. I don’t remember much of my actual talk (other then I must have spoken really fast because I took half the time it had taken when I practiced it), but I do remember standing up there and asking questions afterwards. People looked at me like I actually knew something. Then Jen Mylo came up to me afterwards and wanted to talk to me and get my opinions. It was insane. I walked in thinking that I was a nobody, and walked out feeling like I could indeed be a member of the WordPress community.
Check out the other stories people posted, there are some good ones that should give you an idea of how awesome WordCamps can be.
BONUS: This is what I looked like at WordCamp Chicago 2010. Oh how the times have changed.
John Hawkins and I at WordCamp Chicago 2010. Photo by Andrea_R. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Last Saturday it was announced that I’ll be taking over leadership of WordPress Meetups. I’m pretty pumped to be working with all of the meetup organizers throughout the world as they expand the knowledge and understanding of WordPress in a local community.
Over the next week or two I’m going to be getting up to speed on where things are and what I’ve gotten myself into. Then in early February there will be a call for volunteers going out on make.WordPress.org/events for a team to work on making WordPress meetups amazing.
I’ve had the pleasure to contribute code to the last three default WordPress themes. All three have been great themes in my opinion, and all three have tried to tackle a different problem. All three have also served to help educate and inform theme developers of new, different and awesome ways to do things.
Twenty Ten was the first time in years that core developers became theme developers again. Developing it lead to enhancements in the apis mostly used by themes such Custom Headers becoming core code. Twenty Ten has also turned out to stand the test of time, with about fifteen thousands downloads last week alone (and not including all the times it was downloaded bundled with WordPress 3.0 – 3.5).
Twenty Eleven aimed to be responsive, and more of a magazine style. It demonstrated the power of post formats, with seven different ones baked in and included options for both a dark and light color scheme. As the first default theme to feature responsive design, Twenty Eleven aimed to educate theme developers on simple responsive design and succeeded.
Twenty Twelve took this challenge a step further. Designed ”Mobile First”, It doesn’t scale down to phones, it scales up to the browser. By deciding on the goal from the get go, Twenty Twelve turned out great and it’s source code and the trac discussions that went into building it can now be used to teach developers about the concept of mobile first.
I want Twenty Thirteen to tackle another problem that the education and example of a default theme can do. I want Twenty Thirteen to be designed and built Accessibility First. So what do I mean by “Accessibility First”?
Accessibility First would involve a few decisions to be made upfront:
- Color choices with high contrast in mind from the start. This is one area that Twenty Twelve barely missed.
- Color choices with multiple types of color deficiencies in mind since an estimated 10% of all males suffer from some form of color deficiency.
- Making up for browser deficiencies, specifically the skipnav focus bug in webkit
- Make sure that the design still looks beautiful when the font size is increased 200%
- Following the Theme Accessibility Audit Draft Proposal
By making the decision to be accessible upfront, before a single line of code is written or a single sketch is drawn, WordPress can demonstrate to theme developers what they need to do to make sure that every can experience and use a site to it’s fullest.